iconimg Sunday, March 29, 2015

Nachiket Kelkar, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, January 27, 2014
If you thought exotic, imported food products were on the diet of only metro residents, think again.



In fact, demand for cheese, tortilla chips, pasta, sauces and olive oil among others has gone up by 27-28% in small towns recently against a 15-17% growth in big cities, according to data from the Forum of Indian Food Importers.

"Demand is booming in small cities. Exposure to international fast food chains through various food shows on TV has changed the eating habits of people," said Amit Lohani, convener of the Forum of Indian Food Importers.

For instance, olive oil sales are growing at 50% every year and imported pasta and cheese is seeing a growth of more than 30%. The Indian gourmet food industry, which is growing at 20% annually, is likely to top $2.8 billion (Rs 17,500 crore) by 2015, data from consultancy Technopak Advisors shows.

"Small cities are where the future is," said Jehangir Lawyer of Fortune Gourmet Specialities, which imports cheese, processed meats and seafood from Europe, the US and Australia.

"The super six cities (Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore) were earlier driving growth for imported food.

Now we have identified 30 additional towns," said Sumit Saran of SCS Group, which represents several US brands including California Prunes and Washington Apples.

People from places such as Dhanbad and Bokaro to shop for imported gourmet food products, said Saikat Sarkar of retail chain Spencer’s.